There is so much advice floating around out there on how to create habits and I don’t want to rehash too much in this post, but I wanted to touch on a part of The Miracle Morning that really hit home with me on the idea of the phases of building habits. He breaks creating a new habit down into several phases.
The first phase occurs during the first 10 days of habit building. It is the unbearable phase. Yes, unbearable. After the initial excitement of the first few days wears off your mind and body begin to resist the change. The habit is no longer fun, it is another painful item that must be done each day. The problem is that our brain starts reason that because it is miserable now, this new habit will always be miserable. Thus, most of us quit our new habit in this first 10 day time frame. I want you to think about this for a minute. If you KNEW it would only be miserable for 10 days would you be more likely to push through this phase? I certainly hope so! Keep reminding yourself this phase is temporary and plan for it to be so. Dig deep and push through this first phase.
The second phase takes place over the next 10 days of habit building. You are now getting used to your new habit. You are hopefully developing some confidence in your ability to complete this new habit. It is no longer unbearable. However, they will still be uncomfortable. You will need to use discipline and commit to your habit during this phase. Stay committed so you do not ever have to go through the unbearable phase again.
Once you are through the first 20 days you will enter phase 3 – Unstoppable. You are now in the home stretch! Many experts claim it takes 21 days to create a habit. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the first 20 of those days your habit is associated with bad feelings. It has been uncomfortable, possibly even painful. The final 10 days you are taking your already formed habit and associating pleasure with them. Instead of hating and resenting your new habit you start feeling proud. The habit starts to become a part of your identity. You do not want to back off on your habit during these last 10 days. If you get to day 21 and then decide your habit is built and take a few days off you have mostly negative feelings associated with the habit. Give yourself these last 10 days to positively reinforce your habit, making it something you enjoy. Now if you take time off you will want to get back to your habit since it has become a joyful part of your identity.
I hope that knowing these 3 phases will help you push through the discomfort associated with change and developing new habits. The pain is temporary, the pride is forever. Stick with it, we’re here to help you on your journey!